8.31.2005

Throwing in the towel and Caining My Memory Lane

Throwing in the Towel

Well the Giants have finally given in to certain fans' request for the Giants to forget about this year and look to next year. I guess they finally figured out that if they can't get closer with the guys they got, they may as well go with youngsters. They traded away Deivi Cruz to the Washington Nationals for an A-ball RHP, Benjamin Cox, and Christiansen to the Angels for a AAA LHP Dusty Bergman (supposedly the reason Sabean did the trade) and RHP Ronnie Ray.

From the AP report:
  • Benjamin Cox, RHP, is 23 and was 4-4, 3.00 ERA, .224 BAA, 7 saves in 41 relief outings with 52 K's in 63 IP for Class-A Savannah.
  • Dusty Bergman, LHP, is 27 and was 8-5, 3.25 ERA, 8 saves in 44 relief outings at AAA Salt Lake. Sabean noted that he will probably get a call up once the roster expands on Sept. 1st.
  • Ronnie Ray, RHP, is 21 and was 7-6, 4.40 ERA, 1 save in 39 games at two levels of Class-A ball.
In addition, the Giants called up Angel Chavez, 24, SS for High-Class-A San Jose to start the season, then promoted to AAA Fresno. He had a combined 16 HR and 83 RBI in 119 games, a surprisingly good offensive totals for someone better known for his defensive abilities and lack of offensive abilities. He even got to start because Vizquel had flu-like symptoms.

Too bad the Rangers claimed Tomko else he would probably be gone as well, damn them. I put a curse on them for that, we could have gotten a prospect for him if they didn't do that punk move, I hope all their acquisitions turn out as well as Chan Ho Park did. They aren't even competitive for a playoff spot either, what a little league move they did.

I guess we will be seeing the youngsters a lot more now, particularly Linden and Cain and the relievers, as we got a bullpen to fill next season and only Benitez and Walker are signed, Eyre will become a free agent and probably test the waters, though it sounds like he wants to return (then again David Bell told us fans not to worry in a radio interview but was lying through his teeth).

Caining My Memory Lane

Cain pitched Monday, going 5 IP, only 3 hits and 2 ER, though 4 walks and 2 strikeouts, getting the loss as the Giants lost 2-1. He had a lot of good moments, as reported in the news, particularly his 14 pitch battle that he won with Todd Helton. He did a heck of a lot better than the pitcher he replaced, Brett Tomko, did, certainly, and certainly gave a lot of hope to Giants fans everywhere about his future.

That got me thinking about the debuts of past Giants phenoms. These are all top of mind, I'm not going to strain my memory thinking of every phenom that came our way. Foppert did OK in a relief appearance but nothing he did excited fans other than wondering where his vaulted velocity went (and we're still looking). Williams did nicely for a little bit before unraveling, but had a great first season. Salomon Torres was put into the frying pan immediately and ruined for about a dozen years, before he somehow resurrected himself as a good setup reliever for the Pirates (well, no pressure there...). But then we got Estes for him and he did real well for us, almost up to until he became eligible for free agency, but lucky for him he had that great season and is a lefty, else teams would not be giving him any chance at all. John Burkett came up with zero reputation, I wondered why they bothered bringing him up, but they did and he had a nice first outing and he eventually became a nice starter, lasting many years, and more importantly, netted us Rich Aurilia in a trade, snookering the Rangers out of a nice prospect for a pitcher who wasn't even in our plans anymore.

Then I kind of blank out on first outings and remember general stuff. Mark Grant never did much of anything for us and ended up becoming a nice reliever for the Padres. Mike Remlinger never did much of anything for us and ended up becoming a nice reliever for the Braves and Cubs. Terry MulHolland gave fans a rare treat, a rare play in baseball history: fielding a batted ball, can't remember if bunt or dribbler, he couldn't get the ball out of his glove so he did the next best thing, throw the glove to firstbase, which got him the out. But he ended up being a nice reliever for a string of teams as well. Dennis Cook never did much of anything for us but became a nice reliever for a long series of teams, he even got the last laugh on us, helping the Angels in 2002 before they beat us in the World Series, though he didn't make the playoff roster because the Angels cheated the system and brought up Francisco Rodriguez in September before loopholing him into a playoff roster spot. Not that I'm bitter or anything. :^(

Scott Garrelts did pitch pretty well but wasn't that hyped up coming up that I can recall but he ended up being a nice reliever for us, then a nice starter, but nothing really special, journeyman in stature though he could bring it when he was on, coming within an out of getting the Giants first no-hitter, against the Reds, since John "the Count" Montefusco no-hit the Braves. Trevor Wilson did have a lot of hype but never did much of anything for anyone; I think he became a coach for the Giants in the minors for a while. Kelly Downs also had a lot of hype and took forever to make the team but never lived up to it, he didn't become a reliever either. Bill Laskey had a nice start. He pitched a shutout, 7-0 win if I remember correctly. But it was all downhill, basically, after that, short career. Atlee Hammaker started nicely too but it was all downhill skiing after Fred Lynn Grandslammed him in the All-Star game and he faded away quickly. Mark Davis came up and did really well for us, after we got him as a throw-in in the Joe Morgan trade, but he eventually became an elite closer for the Padres before fading off into the sunset.

Then there are the ones I followed first, the ones I listened to at night while I was suppose to be sleeping but had my authentic Japanese transistor radio under my pillow (for that I thank my uncle for giving me). John "the Count" Montefusco was and is one of my favorites. I can still remember Al Michaels (yes, that Al Michaels, he was our TV announcer for one magical season) calling the game, I can still remember the first time he used that nickname for Montefusco, in his first game, calling him that after Montefusco hit a homerun in his first official AB (he got a walk in his first AB); that must be how that guy, Chris Berman of ESPN, who would devise nicknames for every player based on his name got that idea since he is a Giants fan as well. I loved following him, counting up his strikeouts, seeing his name on the league leader lists, rooting him on to strike out another guy (since the team wasn't really going anywhere). And he was a total character, I loved it when they interviewed him after games.

Ed Halicki was another youngster who came up and did well. Back then there was little news on prospects except during spring training but even then I didn't have a clue who the Giants best prospects were. So Montefusco came up and Halicki came up and I had no idea how good they were or weren't, not like today. Halicki paled in comparison with Montefusco, in exploits, in personality but he has the last Giants no-hitter at home, in Candlestick against the Mets, and he did it before Montefusco did his. It was a day game and I was outside playing while also listening but once it reached the middle of the game, I came into the garage and listened to the rest of the game with my head close to radio, as if for extra emphasis, I mean I could have just turned up the volume instead. He also struck out a lot of batters but not as much as Montefusco and did OK for his career but not as much as Montefusco. But I liked him too.

Then I thought the Giants would have a great rotation for a long time when Pete Falcone came up and did well. He and Montefusco would seemingly duel during the summer, one would strike out a lot then the other would, though Falcone wasn't good enough to continue that. Then he was traded just like that to the Cards for Ken Reitz, and though I was sad, I liked the trade, but then we traded Reitz back to the Cards for another pitcher - I would have rather kept Falcone.

Then we brought up Bob Knepper and that got me excited about the future of the rotation. He pitched well initially but then had a couple of bad years, and I guess the team gave up on him and basically gave him away to Houston, don't remember who we got but of course Knepper was a mainstay of the Houston rotation for the next ten or so years. It was very bittersweet every time he pitched against us for Houston.

That's what I love about baseball, the history, the personal history, remembering touchpoints in the past, remembering a time when you were young and didn't have to think about grown up stuff all the time, when you could enjoy the simple joys of listening to a great game of baseball on the radio, then right afterward, listening to Jerry Gordon's Golden Age of Comedy on KSFO, which always followed every night game. I killed many a set of batteries leaving my radio on trying to finish listening to the comedy classics that played.

By the way, the Giants beat the Rockies to win a series at home again, after sputtering all season long until August, where they went 8-7 at home. They used to totally rule at home but I guess that is the advantage of having the only player in baseball who could hit extremely well at SBC, Barry Bonds. The news tonight said that he is hoping to join the team next week when they face LA - good timing, we could still pass them and the D-backs up for 2nd place in the division if we could just get a good win streak going. Which is a good thing to still strive for, they give the 2nd place team more money from some pool of money than they do 3rd place, that could get us a utility player or reliever or something.

The starting pitching has been very good for a while now (and Lowry has been great) but the offense has been sputtering for a long while now, after Winn got cold and stopped hitting like he was on fire. When they couldn't win with him hitting like that, that was not a good sign that they could get back into the race. But if the offense can get going and Cain can continue to do well, the Giants could easily take 2nd place then see what happens, the Padres have been scuffling too with injuries and stuff, so you never know.

7 Comments:

Anonymous bacci40 said...

given in to certain fans requests?

man, go back on jury duty

this team has been bad since june

Fri Sep 02, 12:56:00 AM PDT  
Blogger obsessivegiantscompulsive said...

If you were the one on trial, then sure, I'll be glad to go back on jury duty and judge you. Otherwise, you can go serve on an aggravated assault, assault with a deadly weapon, and robbery trial and lose over a month of your life deciding the fate of the two men, who don't even dispute that they did such horrible acts, just dispute what was in their mind at that moment of time.

As I've been saying for a while, why do you bother to continue following the team if you cannot enjoy the silver lining amidst the dark storm clouds? Why not just wait until next year? The Giants have actually not been good or bad since the middle of June, playing basically .500 ball, because of great pitching, but you haven't noticed since you stuck your head in the ground when they were losing all those games.

.500 is not bad, it is average, though it is certainly much worse than our original pre-season expectations. But given the horrible losing we had before that, expecting them to play great would not be realistic, playing average would be acceptable given the hole they dug, playing well would be nice but not really expected because there were no injured player (except Bonds) to come back and boost the team, there were just bad playing that didn't get any better on the part of veterans and youngsters alike.

And I've never said the Giants weren't bad overall this year, I think that's pretty obvious to any Giants fan, I just think it would be pretty boring to talk ad infinitem about something obvious like that unless you like that sort of thing or can make it funny like McCovey Chronicles does. I find relentless gloom relentlessly boring.

All I've been saying, the main thing that you seem to object to, is that the Giants still have a chance for the playoffs and that there's nothing wrong if the team wants to go for it. I use Dusty's rule for contention to guide me: you are in it if the number of games you are back is less than the number of weeks left in the season. Yes, they have stunk but they were still close enough to make a run for it if their hitters would come alive because their pitching has been pretty good for a while; they haven't yet. But you never know, look at all the good Giants teams that lose in the playoffs.

I would have been equally fine if they decided to mail it in like Jerry Reinsdorf did when they gave all those players to us and look to next year. However, I believe that if a team can make the playoffs, no matter how lousy their chances are once they are in, they should go for it. Definitely not go for it, trade Matt Cain away to win it, but do what you can within limits.

The Winn trade was out of limits for me - and I wrote about that - but it makes sense given that the Giants never felt comfortable enough to start Torrealba and assuming they think that Foppert's arm is going to fall off again because he refuses to change his mechanics, kind of like how they jettisoned Ainsworth and then Williams. Hopefully their scouts and coaches are right; they have been right about 95%+ of the time before.

But in a bad season as this has turned out, you need to have the perspective to see the good among the bad, just as you need the perspective to see the bad among the good during the good seasons. For example, last season, most Giants fans on a board I was on were acting like you were in mid-May, but I saw that there were mitigating factors, basically injuries, and people were coming back so I wrote that we haven't seen the real Giants yet. And I got blasted even worse than you have been doing. But then the Giants started playing up to their abilities and was able to compete for the title until the last day of the season.

You refuse to acknowledge any of the good, "the season sucks, the team sucks, the manager sucks, the general manager sucks, the owners suck, boo hoo, oh woe is me". If you want to see such boring prose, perhaps you would be better served looking at the Giants Newsgroup on Google, they make you look like a piker, saying the EXACT same things you have been saying, only stronger and more intelligently, except that they have been saying them the previous three seasons (at minimum, I only viewed their exchanges for that long). They must be having a field day this season, I haven't bothered to check.

I understand the anger, I can understand why you think the way you do about Sabean and Alou (though I don't agree), but you refuse to acknowledge the good that is there, the flowers among the lawn of weeds, so why bother? What's the thrill? Or is that how your mind works, it is either all good or all bad?

And I've been meaning to ask: you brought up Candlestick. Am I suppose to be impressed by that? I would have been if you brought up Tom Haller and Spec Richardson or even if you mentioned Bob Quinn. I would have been if you mentioned Rich Murray, David Green, Johnnie LeMaster, Steve Decker, Adam Hydzu (or was it Hyzdu, never could get it right), Rennie Stennent or my favorite, Randy Elliott. I would have been especially impressed if you knew that the Giants passed up on Mark McGwire in order to draft Alan Cockrell, that the Giants drafted Barry Bonds out of H.S. and lost him because of $5K (he wanted $55K and was offered $50K), or that they passed up on drafting Barry Bonds again in order to pick Will Clark.

Because Candlestick wasn't too bothersome most of the time, there were even nights when it was so damn warm that I was down to my t-shirt. And even on the bad nights, if you were prepared, it wasn't that bad.

If you had mentioned that you knew how to get out of the park quick and efficiently I would have been impressed. I knew exactly where to park and I always got tickets for the closest section to that spot, so that once I got in my car, I was out of the park almost immediately and not be in the long lines of cars inching along to get out.

I would have also been impressed if you said you were at the World Series during the earthquake. That's an experience I'll never forget, the only time I have ever feared for my life during an earthquake.

So tell me why I should be impressed by the fact that you went to Candlestick?

Not that I expect a reply, I am still waiting for answers to all the other questions I've asked you. Or is "the Constitution win" again your answer to everything?

Fri Sep 02, 10:17:00 PM PDT  
Anonymous bacci40 said...

the silver lining to me, is what is currently going on in our farm system

while some of our players are a little to old for their respective leagues, there are lots of exciting players at every position

and ive followed the giants since 71...when i became a huuuge baseball fan

i love the giants...win or lose

but i was commenting on your choice of words

the dead wood had to go....sabean knew that for a long time

its all about the kids

now bench el fatso, trade winn, bring up frandsen....and lets go for the division

Sat Sep 03, 10:09:00 AM PDT  
Blogger obsessivegiantscompulsive said...

Well that's something I can agree with. Yes, the farm system is the best since we've been following them (I am a fellow Giants since 1971 follower as well).

About El Fatso, er, Alfonzo, I agree with you: I wrote an article advocating trading him to the Yankees, stat, when Aaron Boone went down and they needed a starting 3B. The problem with Alfonzo is he has a huge contract and for that you have to try to get value out of him. He hasn't earned his keep as a Giants but he wasn't that bad the first two seasons, he was a fine cog to the offense. However, this season, he has sunk below even that meager output.

But if that is obvious to us fans, imagine how the scouts and GMs feel: they wouldn't touch him with a 10 foot pole. The Giants would have to pay for most of his salary, like they did with Livan. That's easy for us to say but the owners are not going to get such a large contract.

However, he is a good enough hitter that if we split the last year of his contract with a team or accept back one of their losers (equivalently salaried or so), the Giants should be able to trade him and play Feliz at 3B (that would be my best bet for this coming offseason). I would guess that Angel Chavez is auditioning for the backup infield spot right now and that Brian Dallimore will probably make the roster next year as the uber-utility guy, playing 1B, 2B, and 3B. Frandsen probably is playing to be 2B of 2007, I've been impressed with how fast he has risen in the system.

And I like Winn, he brings a balance to his position, hitting equally well against RHP and LHP, whereas most of the players we have are platoon players, like Ellison and Niekro (and formerly Grissom, Cruz, and Tucker), plus he adds some speed to the lineup. If Bonds can return, then we got Bonds, Winn, Alou, and Durham as balanced hitters, plus Vizquel good vs RHP, Feliz good vs. LHP, and Snow/Niekro platooning at 1B, making that position acceptable overall. And Matheny has been a pleasant offensive surprise, supplying more than I had expected or that his career indicated.

And we look good for the future (2007 and beyond), Chavez and Frandsen up the middle, perhaps Ishikawa or EME at 1B, perhaps EME or Dan Ortmeier in LF, Fred Lewis in CF, and Todd Linden in RF, plus Schierholtz somewhere, and Mooney pushing at 2B.

And I had a problem with your choice of words as well. I'm "spinning" thing if I have something to gain from it. Last I checked, I'm neither an owner, GM, manager, coach, player, or employee of the Giants and it does my ego nothing whether the Giants win or lose, though I'll be much happier with the former. I tell it like I see it.

But that's partly why I write. I know that objectivity doesn't always come easily to a fan, I could have rose-colored glasses on or a blind spot, so feel free to question my point of view and I will do likewise with anyone I feel have blinders on as well. And let's agree that sometimes its only opinion no matter how anyone spins it and agree to disagree.

Sun Sep 04, 05:07:00 PM PDT  
Anonymous Lyle said...

Loved your stroll through memory lane - I'd forgotten Pete Falcone. Ed "Ho Ho" Halicki was a gem. Yes, with Falcone, Halicki, and the Count, it looked like we'd have a dominant staff for years to come. Remember when free agency started, and we solved our catching problem by signing future star Milt May? And I remember reading about our minor league slugger Rob Deer; his HR's and strikeouts were like a dog wagging his tail and barking at the same time - I wasn't sure which to believe in most.
So here's how the past can inform the present. Remember Robby Thompson vaulting from A ball to the majors one spring training? Let's do the same (kinda) with Kevin Fransden next year - assuming we can trade Durham for something worthwhile. What do you think?

Mon Sep 05, 07:45:00 AM PDT  
Blogger obsessivegiantscompulsive said...

Cool, thanks, I had forgotten about that, except, pardon my correction, but it was Will Clark who jumped from A-ball to the majors in a year - Robby jumped from AA.

But still the principle holds, thanks for reminding me. I try not to dare to hope for that, but I was thinking the same thought about him jumping up (of course, he's already at AAA AND already doing well so that's not so big a leap as the above). I hope he can.

Durham definitely has more value than Alfonzo, but with his multitude of injuries for each year of his contract, there's no way we could get much for him unless we send along some money as well (I don't believe any trade is possible without money, Durham is getting $7.7M for 2006, player option). It is not so easy to get rid of players like Alfonzo and Durham as some fans think - as I noted, if regular fans know how bad these players are, the other teams definitely feel the same about the players and would not want them. The best we can hope is to get someone else's deadwood with equivalent salary plus get a prospect if the deadwood is not that good (whereas Durham has been good just injured).

Mon Sep 05, 01:06:00 PM PDT  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

It is very nice to see someone speaking so highly of John Montefusco. He should be a pitching coach there.

Sat Sep 02, 11:56:00 PM PDT  

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